CHM Downtown 1
The Empire National Bank was established by Virgil Highland in 1903. It was originally located in the Oak Hall Building directly across Main Street from the structure on the northwest corner of Main and Fourth Streets. In 1907, the Empire National Bank moved to the Empire Building. The Clarksburg Publishing Company used to print copies of the town’s newspaper in the basement of the Empire National Bank Building. Today, the bank portion of the structure is occupied by MVB Bank, and remains a historic structure of Downtown Clarksburg.
Similar to many Confederate markers and monuments, this bronze plaque was the result of the efforts of women in the early nineteenth century. The United Daughters of the Confederacy funded and dedicated this plaque to commemorate the birthplace of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson. Jackson was born on January 21, 1824 in Clarksburg, Virginia. He entered West Point in July 1842 and, in spite of his poor childhood education, was able to graduate seventeenth in his class in 1846. Upon graduation, Jackson served as an officer in the Mexican American War. He also served as an army officer in New York and Florida. In 1851, Jackson became professor of artillery tactics and natural philosophy at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. He resigned from the army in 1852 and later joined the Confederate army where he earned a reputation as a competent and fearless military officer.
Nathan Goff Jr. was an attorney turned real estate mogul in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Goff belonged to a prominent family in the city, and is responsible for the majority of Clarksburg’s architecture. The Goff Building was constructed from 1910 to 1911, and was built with the intent to hold nine floors of office space for local businesses. Today the Goff Building has been well preserved and is still available for office space.
This is the staff from the bow of the U.S.S. West Virginia, a battleship that was sunk during the Battle of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This marker was placed in memory of those that served on the battleship which was destroyed in the attack.The commanding officer of the ship, Captain Mervyn S. Bennion, was mortally wounded in the early part of the attack. Like many others aboard the ship, he attempted to save the men aboard the ship despite his injuries. Bennion was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. Seventy of the sailors aboard the vessel were trapped below deck when the ship sank and perished along with others who were wounded in the attack.
Born in Clarksburg, (West) Virginia in 1824, Thomas Jonathan Jackson emerged as one of the most prominent Confederate generals of the American Civil War. A graduate of West Point, Jackson served in the Mexican and Seminole Wars. He accepted a professorship at the Virginia Military Institute, where he taught until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Accepting a commission in the Confederate army, Jackson rose through the ranks as an aggressive, confident military commander. He commanded a Confederate corps under Robert E. Lee in the Army of Northern Virginia. In 1863, he was wounded by his own men at the Battle of Chancellorsville and developed pneumonia, to which he succumbed on May 10, 1863. In 1953, amidst the Civil Rights movement, the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a statue to Jackson on the courthouse square in Clarksburg. In recent years, there have been calls for the statue's removal, but the Harrison County Commission has refused to take any action.
The history of the Harrison County Courthouse stretches back to 1784, when a one-room building was erected for five hundred fifty dollars. Since then, the building has been replaced four times, culminating in the fifth courthouse that is visible today. The current Art Moderne building was constructed between 1931 and 1932 and is architecturally significant. It is also Harrison County’s longest serving courthouse building. A variety of historical plaques, monuments, and memorials are contained in the building’s courtyard. They commemorate the people and events that have shaped Harrison County.
Before the Union National Bank occupied this site, it was occupied by the Traders Building. This building housed a number of facilities including the Trader Hotel, an opera house, and a number of stores. It was the largest building ever built in the Clarksburg Historic District and resembled a modern shopping centre. However, the Traders Building burnt to the ground in 1911. It was quickly replaced by the Union National Bank building, which still stands today. The ten-story structure was designed to resemble a Doric column. It has remained downtown Clarksburg’s tallest building since its completion in 1911 and has served banking institutions continuously. These days, the building also includes office space for local businesses and organizations.
The Merchants and Mechanics Bank was established as a branch of a bank in Wheeling in 1860, and was originally housed in a storefront of the Despard Block. In 1894, the Merchants Bank building was constructed and included three storerooms, all of which are still in their original state today. The Merchants Bank building is a striking New-Romanesque Revival structure, significant for its architectural integrity. In 1961, Merchant Bank’s assets were purchased by Union Bank, and the building was then purchased by its present namesake, Community Savings and Loans.
The Soldiers’ Monument was the brainchild of the Richard Wallace Circle No. 12 Ladies Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). In March 1907, the ladies decided to fundraise for the construction of a granite statue in memory of those who served in the U.S. military from 1776-1907, and ultimately, hoped this would serve as daily lesson in patriotism for Clarksburg’s citizens. The cost amounted to $2,000. However, the campaign the group created faced challenges. The monument fund found many financial supporters during the first two months of the drive. But, donations came to a stand-still by the end of April 1907 with a remainder of $1,431 for the cost of the statue and dedication ceremony. As the fundraising campaign dragged on into the summer, the ceremony was pushed to August and then permanently set for May 30, 1908. By the time May 30 dedication arrived, the Soldiers Monument had lived under a canvas tarp on the east corner of the courthouse yard since its placement in October 1907. But, this is not the end of the monument’s story. The Soldiers Monument traveled three times since its placement on the courthouse square in 1908. At one time or another, the statue lived near the old City Hall at the former Mortimer Smith House on West Main Street; the Nathan Goff National Guard Armory, and finally in front of newest City Building on West Main Street where he remains to this day.
The Stealey-Goff-Vance House dates back to 1807, when it was constructed for tanner Jacob Stealey. It is the oldest home in Clarksburg, and likely the oldest building in general. Stealey died in 1841, but the home remained in the family's possession until 1881, when John Stealey sold the property to Nathan Goff Sr., a former member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. Goff's widow remodeled the home around 1891, adding Victorian details such as the gable roof and detailed exterior millwork. During the early twentieth century, the home served as a boarding house and doctor's office before it became the property of Amy Roberts Vance in 1933. When Vance died in 1967, her sons donated the historic home to the Harrison County Historical Society with the stipulation that the property would serve as a headquarters and museum. The historical society offers tours of the home by appointment, as well as special programs at the house throughout the year.
The Towers School site has been home to several educational institutions. The first school to occupy the site was the Randolph Academy, the first academy west of the Allegheny Mountains. After serving Clarksburg from 1795 until 1843, it was replaced by the Northwestern Virginia Academy. During the Civil War, the academy’s building was utilized as a barracks, military prison, and a hospital because Clarksburg was home to hundreds of troops from 1861 through 1865. The Northwestern Virginia Academy did not reopen after the war and its building was re-adapted for public school use. A new building, the Towers School, was established in 1895 and served the Clarksburg community for nearly 100 years. A historical plaque commemorates the site’s contributions to education in Clarksburg. Towers School was demolished in the mid-1990s.
The Clarksburg Municipal Building dates back to 1888 when it served as the city’s post office. From 1932 to 1965, the structure was deemed the Federal Building because it housed various Federal Offices. In 1966, the structure became the City of Clarksburg’s Municipal Building. Despite the efforts of preservationists and local residents who rallied to save the structure and convert it into a museum and visitors center, the building was demolished.
This historic hotel was built in 1913 by Dr. Truman E. Gore, the brother of Governor Howard M. Gore, who served West Virginia from 1925 to 1929. The hotel demonstrates elements of neoclassical design within the Renaissance Revival style. The hotel quickly earned a reputation for elegance and it was the place to be for the leaders of the city and their guests during the boom years of the 1920s. Like many other downtown hotels, business declined in the wake of smaller hotels along the interstate. As fewer guests came to the city center, the building was converted into office space. In 1998, the structure was purchased by Steve Haning who worked to restore some of the original exterior features while modernizing the interior. The building is now home to a number of businesses and individual apartments.
Nathan Goff Jr. hired architect Harrison Albright to design the Waldo Hotel in 1901, and when the Waldo opened in 1904 it was one of the most luxurious hotels in West Virginia. The Waldo Hotel was named after Nathan Goff Jr.’s father, whose home sits beside the hotel. The Waldo was built with the intent to entertain prominent guests in Clarksburg, and became the hub of social and political life. After serving as a hotel for many decades, the Waldo was converted into dormitories for Salem College and later, apartments. The building currently sits vacant and is uninhabitable. Debate over whether the hotel should be restored or demolished is a common topic in Clarksburg, and the building’s future is uncertain.
Waldomore began as a family home for Clarksburg resident Waldo P. Goff, but later evolved into a well-known local landmark. The two-story Neo-Classical Revival brick house was constructed in 1839 and expanded ca. 1900. It is an emblematic representative of the Neo-Classical Revival style. The name Waldomore was derived by combining the names of the original owners, Waldo P. Goff, and his wife Harriet Moore. May Goff Lowndes, daughter of Goff and Moore, donated Waldomore to the city of Clarksburg in 1931, on the condition that it be used as a library or museum. The city accepted and Waldomore remains a part of the Clarksburg Public Library today. It primarily holds special collections, such as the Local History & Genealogy Collection, the West Virginia Collection, and the Grey Barker UFO Collection.
The Robinson Grand Theater opened its doors in 1913 with the help of its founders William Lafferty, Charles Alexander and Reuben Robinson of the Clarksburg Amusement Company. It was later renovated and enlarged in 1927 to appeal to contemporary designs and society of its time. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in May of 1939 when an air conditioner caught on fire destroying most of the stage and theater house. Luckily, it was able to be rebuilt by December of the same year. This was the place where many locals first saw classics like Jaws, Star Wars and the Sound of Music. The theater continued to show movies and host local events through the 1980s but later shut down due to other popular suburban multiplexes within the area. Thanks to the hardworking people of Clarksburg, the Robinson Grand Theater was completely remodeled.
Ritzy Lunch was established in 1933 by Joseph and Mary Selario and has become one of the best-known downtown Clarksburg institutions. The restaurant is known for its family recipe of chili sauce and its unique style of hot dogs that include sauce and slaw, a style that has become a regional standard throughout southern Ohio and the state of West Virginia. While the city and surrounding buildings and businesses have changed, Ritzy Lunch appears just as it did when the business opened.
The Nathan Goff Jr. House was built between 1880 and 1883, and belonged to a prominent figure in Clarksburg and the state of West Virginia. Nathan Goff Jr. was the United States District Attorney for West Virginia from 1868 to 1883. He was also the son of Waldo Goff, the owner of the famous local Waldomore home. Nathan Goff Jr. was also responsible for creating the Waldo hotel, named after his father. The Nathan Goff Jf. House was an emblematic example of the Second Empire architectural style. The Goff home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, but was delisted in 1994 following the home’s 1993 demolition.